WASHINGTON - Several rifles have been reported stolen from an Indiana military unit, but the Call 6 Investigators find the Pentagon and other federal agencies keeping quiet about how big the problem of stolen weapons may be for military units nationwide.
Three rifles stolen from the Indiana National Guard are now listed on a nationwide database of stolen and missing guns maintained by federal law enforcement agencies. But a Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) spokesman in Washington told the Call 6 Investigators that database contains no breakdown of how many military weapons are now being sought by law enforcement overall.
The latest figures from the ATF stolen and missing gun database show 4,774 guns reported lost or stolen in Indiana in 2012, but agents in Washington said they have no idea if any of those weapons were stolen from military units or personnel.
A 2008 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found various military gear for sale "no questions asked" on the Internet, but it did not single out guns or ammunition. An earlier GAO report from 1995 found about 250 pistols and rifles reported missing or stolen from military units, with the report noting that was a small number in an overall inventory of 3.4 million small arms.
When the Call 6 Investigators requested numbers and other information from the Pentagon over the past six weeks, various Department of Defense officials did not respond to those inquiries.
When any guns are stolen nationwide, police agencies are required to enter the serial numbers into the law enforcement database so that those weapons can be recovered if they are confiscated in various crimes or found to be for sale. While the law enforcement database does not specify which of those weapons are missing from the military, the only breakdown on the types of weapons being stolen involves those taken from licensed gun dealers.
In Indiana, the latest figures show 240 guns reported lost or stolen from licensed gun dealers in 2012. Those include 103 guns stolen in six burglaries at gun shops, 22 guns stolen from 12 other thefts at gun shops and 23 guns stolen in a single robbery at a licensed gun shop.
Nationwide, there were 190,342 weapons listed as lost or stolen during 2012.
Indiana National Guard leaders told the Call 6 Investigators that several rifles reported stolen from one of its units in November remain missing and possibly in the hands of criminals.
Police have searched several homes and other locations in that investigation, but those guns have not been found. The police investigation did turn up another surprise: Detectives said they found the Indiana National Guard had issued those weapons to a convicted felon who was barred from being around weapons because of his criminal history.
The background check issues exposed by the recent theft of military weapons is the focus of a Call 6 Investigators report that will air on Thursday night at 11 p.m. on RTV6.
“While no practice is perfect, the Indiana National Guard does take excessive strides to be able to verify the background of the individual that is trying to enlist,” said Lt. Col. Cathleen Van Bree with the Indiana National Guard.